Lancaster University’s collection includes a number of Japanese paintings and prints. These works were collected by the eminent scientist and Honorary Research Fellow at Lancaster University, Professor Irène Manton FRS. The examples of Japanese art in this collection vary in age, style and technique, and reveal Professor Manton’s interests in both the process of printmaking and the beauty of the natural world.
The prints range from early 17th and 18th century Buddhist woodcut prints, through to the popular Ukiyo-e prints of Hiroshige, and the varied printmaking techniques of twentieth century Japan. These include works by Munakata, one of Japan’s most distinguished twentieth century artists. The paintings include early works such as ‘Painting of a Celebrated Poet’ by Tosa Mitsuoki, and later works in watercolour depicting delicately painted birds, fish and insects.
Two other distinct aspects of Japanese art represented in the collection are scroll paintings and surimono prints. Scrolls were an important aspect of artistic expression and were used both as images for contemplation and as an integral part of interior decoration. Surimono prints, which were often produced as just single sheets, were used to send announcements or greetings on a special occasion such as a new year. These prints usually include an illustration and a poem or story.